Kereta Lembu ‘Cow-Cart’ : Why it has been omitted, and why it’s reappearing?

Malacca Carnival Logo, Malaysia in 1988
Malacca Carnival Logo, Malaysia in 1988

Why it has been omitted for decades, and why it is reappearing now?

For many fellow Malaysian mainly generation X cannot miss to remember an icons of a Kereta Lembu : Cow cart. It is always been associated with the historical city Melaka or Malacca. It might not be part of most generation X life time experience but the image of it is clear in many Malaysian. However, it may be an familiar icon for Malaysia generation Y, like my nephews and nieces. They might either be extra excited or scared to be near the Kereta Lembu, this is if they are lucky to have a chance to experience one. Kereta Lembu had become an icon that projected the image for the state of Melaka since sixties.

For few decades, Kereta Lembu has become a significant icon that are heavily use as a graphic elements such as in the company logo, signage, design for flyers, etc. Having said that, it was a significant icon not only because it represented the state, but also the image were associated with the cultural practice of Malaccanian citizen. Kereta Lembu was one of the main transportation for everyday life it takes passengers, villagers, school children, goods, and sometime are used as a ‘moving van’ from one village to another or from a village to town.

Since late late 90’s, the use of Kereta Lembu gradually began be forgotten as the new way of transportation took place. However, the icons stayed not only as a collection of Melaka’s historical artifacts but also adding in the stereotypical icons of Malaysian national identity. Kereta Lembu vanished forever from Malaysian everyday life as its used now been replaced by cars, buses, motorbike and other new vehicles. Generation Y might not be able to imagine that Kereta Lembu was one of the only vehicle that are available in their parents generation allowing them to move around, but this logo of Malaccanian Carnival in 1988 is one of the evidences that could trace back the significant contribution Kereta Lembu have made for the people in Melaka. In fact the evidences that Kereta Lembu were useful for Malaccanian people can also be seen in songs and movies produced around the seventies. One of the songs that has been captured and expressed is called Kereta Lembu by Helen Velu or her real name Halina Abdul Wahab, a well known seventies female singer. Fairly recent, (see Utusan Online) after few decades since the song was Kereta Lembu song become well-known again. One of the reason is because it is nostalgic, but more over because it is an icon that has been promoted for branding and tourism.

Below, in a newly constructed video clip of the song includes some snap shots of scene the use of Kereta Lembu in people’s everyday life. Thanks to Abang Jebat for sharing this video.